Hinga Weze Promotes Drought-Resistant and Nutrient Rich Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato

According to the Rwanda Agricultural and Livestock Board (RAB), over 6,000 hectares of crops were destroyed after a series of storms caused floods and landslides in Gatsibo District, Rwanda, during the latest planting season. Gatsibo District, which is located in the north-eastern part of the country, is one of most drought-prone areas in Rwanda.

Rwandan farmer plants OFSP vines

Gatsibo also suffers from some of the country’s highest malnutrition and food insecurity rates. According to the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability analysis, about three percent of households in Gatsibo are severely food insecure. Coupled with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many farmers expressed concerns for their ability to stay healthy and manage future shocks.

To address this, the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity began working with seed multipliers to distribute Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) vines and other improved seed varieties to farmers. Hinga Weze is a USAID-funded project implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), which aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women and children, and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate.

OFSP farmer and cooperative member displaying sweet potatoes

As one of Hinga Weze’s primary value chains, OFSPs — which are drought-resistant and rich in Vitamin A — support the improvement of crop productivity, income generation, and nutrition which increases the resilience of Rwandan farmers to respond to future environmental and economic stressors.

During the first phase of seed distributions, Hinga Weze distributed and planted eight MT of seeds to promote nutrition and support farmers who suffered as a result of the previous season’s floods. The Activity expects to generate an additional 566 MT of seeds by working with local seed multipliers which will be distributed across the Activity’s 10 target districts.

Farmers at planting season launch event in Gatsibo, Rwanda

The second phase of seed distribution was launched on June 9, 2020 in the Rwangingo marshland during the kickoff of the new planting season in Gatsibo. At the launch, Hinga Weze distributed and planted four hectares of OFSP vines worth over $1,000 and organized an exhibition of other vegetables such as beans, lentils, carrots, onions and tomatoes.

Farmer at planting season launch event in Gatsibo, Rwanda

During the event address, the district’s Director of Agriculture, Ernest Nsigayehe, encouraged farmers to follow Hinga Weze guidelines on good farming practices in order to improve their yield. Other guest speakers such as the Hinga Weze Deputy Chief of Party, Laurence Mukamana, also challenged households to consume nutritious foods in order to reduce the high rate of malnutrition in the district.

Hinga Weze Deputy Chief of Party, Laurence Mukamana (right) and her team at planting season launch event in Gatsibo, Rwanda

Hinga Weze plans to continue working with seed multipliers across its 10 districts to highlight the potential of the Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP), to help ensure food security, and continue to fight malnutrition in Rwanda.

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